Alabama’s first-ever black Miss Alabama winner posted a video Sunday, tearfully admitting she views Dallas shooter Micah Johnson as a “martyr” and isn’t upset about the five police he murdered.
In 1994, Kalyn Chapman James became the first, and so far only, black woman to be crowned Miss Alabama, before going on to a top-10 finish in the Miss America pageant. Today, she works as a TV host in Miami, and awards an annual scholarship to the top black finisher at each year’s Miss Alabama.
In a video recorded in her car after leaving church Sunday, James says that, as much as she wished otherwise, she didn’t feel bad about the murder of five police in Dallas and views shooter Micah Johnson as a martyr. Johnson hated white people and wanted to kill police in revenge for the deaths of black men like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, according to police.
“I don’t want to feel this way,” she says in the video, which was uploaded to Facebook. “[But] I don’t feel sad for the officers who lost their lives … I know that’s really not my heart. I value human life, and I want to feel sad for them but I can’t help but feeling like the shooter was a martyr,” she says in the video.
“I know it’s not the right way to feel, because nobody deserves to lose their lives and I know that those police officers had families and people who loved them and that they didn’t deserve to die,” she continued. “But I’m so torn up in my heart about seeing these men, these black men, being gunned down in our community that I can’t help, I can’t help but feel like; I wasn’t surprised by what the shooter did to those cops and I think a lot of us feel the same way.”
James says she doesn’t condone violence against innocents, but at the same time, “I’m sick of this, and something has to be done, period.”
When contacted by AL.com, James replied with a written statement attempting to add more context to the video. At the same time, though, she did not apologize, and even indicated that she was glad her opinion was considered newsworthy.
My heart and my mind were conflicted because these are difficult and very emotional times for so many people. I went to church to address my feelings and deal with them from a perspective of forgiveness and love. Especially forgiving myself for feeling that way. I regret that any people lost their lives this week and I am saddened by all of the shootings that occurred. But, this is not about me. When reading about the killings of those black men, I was mortified by some of the comments about them. Many People were not conflicted at all about those deaths. Some were okay with this. These are raw wounds that are fresh and, while I apologize if I offended anyone, I cannot help the way I feel as I continue to process these events and deal with the flood of emotions that come from witnessing such atrocities – both against citizens and officers of the law. The fact that my opinion was considered newsworthy makes me feel like speaking up was exactly what I should do.
Currently, the video remains live and can be publicly viewed on James’ Facebook page. She has also made a follow-up post thanking people for their both positive and negative feedback. Many posted comments are supportive of James’ view on the matter.
“Thank you for being brave enough to be honest about how you are truly feeling and expressing what many people of color are feeling during these days,” one commenter said. “We are tired, we are angry, we are exhausted, we are scared, and we are at our breaking points.”